Just after graduating from college, I had the fortunate experience of backpacking around the world - 31 countries in nine months. After a 36-hour bus ride that was supposed to take 10, I arrived in Laos from Thailand. I had visited a waterfall with some hostel friends and began to feel ill. It started as the typical travel bug – low energy, dizziness, stomach ache. By the third day, I felt like my body was in the middle of a tug-o-war – right at that moment before one side wins and the other loses, except the fight wasn’t between two 6th-grade teams – it felt between life and death.
This village had no medical facility or even a tent, and I feared the bus ride could take more time than I had. My best option was flying to Bangkok. There I was in the Bangkok hospital on the same day as the terrorist attacks on Paris. The entire world felt vulnerable and so did I. My phone didn’t work. I didn’t speak the language. I knew no one. I felt like I was watching a movie of my death.
The one thought that comforted me? Everyone in my life knew how important they were to me. A few years ago, I challenged myself to tell one person each day for 365 days (and beyond) why I appreciate them. I told everyone from a long-lost friend from 3rd grade to my parents to the surprisingly helpful woman at the Apple store. To memorialize my gratitude, I wrote a blog entry about each one. I had no doubt that these 376 people know in black-and-white how they have touched my life.
The exercise crystallized for me that people are the most important to me. I learned how to practice mindfulness. We give our best at work, on the field, and at school. Why wouldn't we consciously give our best with the people in our lives? Sharing gratitude is the simplest way to boost our relationships and stay rooted in the present.
Brian recovered from his unidentified illness and continued the final three months of his journey. Thank you, Brian, for your commitment to the people in your life, your persistence to bring your vision to life, and your vulnerability for sharing it with us.
For our readers - if tomorrow was your last day, would everyone who had positively touched your journey here on Earth know you were grateful to them?